Savannah Mayor Edna B. Jackson joined 15 select mayors and school superintendents from across the country to met with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Washington, DC, last Monday to discuss partnership opportunities to foster effective approaches to education reform.
Mayor Jackson, who took time out from a personal vacation in Washington to attend, was invited as part of the National League of Cities’ Mayors’ Education Reform Task Force formed in March 2013 to explore how cities can and should be involved in local education reform efforts.
During the meeting, task force members highlighted the growing commitment by municipal officials across the country to promoting educational achievement.
“Mayors and elected officials can bring together all the stakeholders in the education conversation in their cities,” said St. Paul, Minn., Mayor Chris Coleman, First Vice President of the NLC and co-chair of the Task Force. “The perspectives from mayors of cities large to small are valuable to local and national policymakers. I’m glad we had an opportunity to talk with the Secretary and his staff about the role mayors can play in education transformation.”
Local leaders shared examples of city-school partnerships they have formed in their communities in areas such as school improvement, early learning, after school programming, and postsecondary success.
“The trajectory of learning begins at birth and extends over a lifetime,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, Second Vice President of the NLC and co-Chair of the Task Force. “Cities now experience an unprecedented level of collaboration and discussion in formulating specific plans for postsecondary access and success and productive out-of-school time learning.”
The meeting with Secretary Duncan provided mayors with an opportunity to discuss how lessons learned at the city level can inform federal education policy. Among the key issues of concern identified by the task force are: · Finding a “third way” in education reform that balances a commitment to accountability with a spirit of collaboration among school administrators, teachers, and cities; · Transforming schools into centers of community that support parent engagement and provide wraparound services to children and families; · Building on successful “cradle-to-career” models to develop a strong educational pipeline; · Securing adequate and equitable funding for local education initiatives; and · Promoting college access and completion.
In addition to Mayors Jackson, Rogers and Coleman, participants in today’s meeting included: Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Indiana; Mayor Dwight Jones of Richmond, Virginia; Mayor Pedro Segarra of Hartford, Connecticut; Mayor
Paul Soglin of Madison, Wisconsin; Riverside (Calif.) Unified School District Superintendent Rick Miller; Gary Community School Corporations Superintendent Chery Pruitt; and New York City Deputy Chief Academic Officer Josh Thomases.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.